Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year poll opens soon

TV presenter Jeremy Wells is throwing his celebrity weight behind the royal spoonbill in Forest & Bird’s Bird of the Year poll, which opens on Monday (September 14).

 Royal Spoonbill, Photo: Craig McKenzie

Royal Spoonbill, Photo: Craig McKenzie

In Wells’ expert ornithological opinion, the royal spoonbill deserves to win the poll because of its spoon-like bill, its sense of humour and its devastating good looks.

Over the next month, several campaign managers, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sam Hunt and Kim Hill will post blogs and videos on Forest & Bird’s website imploring voters to vote for their favourite bird.

Wells – who has just finished shooting the TV series Birdland – was quick to take out the knives in his inaugural campaign speech.

He described the kiwi as boring and the grey warbler as lacking a sense of humour, whereas “spoonbills will laugh at anything”.

"It is possibly the funniest-looking bird. The kiwi might have a long bill [but] the spoonbill is the only bird with a spoon-shaped bill. It doesn't need any handouts from the government – in fact, it flew here itself in the 1930s.”

Radio interviewer Kim Hill is endorsing the forest-flitting fantail, writer Steve Braunias is putting pen to paper for the white-faced heron, and opera singer Dame Kiri “Te Kereru” Kanawa will be singing the praises of our forest heavyweight, the wood pigeon.

Poet Sam Hunt is pushing for his feathery neighbour, the pied stilt, or poaka – a bird he describes as a stunning actor, yet a sloppy architect.

“There’s nothing I don’t love about these birds. I love the way they don’t give too much of a toss about nests. A few sticks and twigs do the trick – so long as it carries the eggs safely. A scoop on a sandbank, again, a few twigs. That’s home.”

Blogger David Farrar is backing the cheeky kaka, and radio presenter and blogger Damian Christie has started a cult following for our polygamous swamp hen, the pukeko – a bird that has been laughed out of the water by victorious grey warbler campaigner and fellow broadcaster Graeme Hill.

“Pukeko? Porphyrio porphyrio. Why say it twice? It flew here just a few hundred years ago... ninny. It is barely a native and miles away from endemic. Puh.”

The kakapo topped last year’s poll, and other winners have included the fantail and tui. Shockingly, in last year’s poll, the kiwi for the first time failed to make the top 10, coming in at 13th place.

The Bird of the Year poll, run by independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird, closes on October 14. Votes can be cast on-line at www.forestandbird.org.nz from September 14.

To view some of the blogs posted by our celebrity campaigners click on the links below:

Billed to Win, Jeremy Wells, campaign manager for the royal spoonbill.
Doubtless, Sam Hunt, campaign manager for the pied stilt.
Kereru: A berry, berry important bird, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, campaign manager for the kereru.

Contact: Forest & Bird Communications Officer Mandy Herrick, 09 302 3905, 027 617 8355

Royal spoonbill photo by Craig McKenzie